A Busy Week: A recollection from an SIA participant

Hi Everyone,

This week between the OMLTA Conference and my visit to the University of Manitoba I have been unable to grace you with my musings.

This is a blessing as I am able to introduce you to part one of an excellent piece written by SIA participant and Ontario teacher, Bryan.

Thanks for all of your wonderful support.

See you soon!

L. Shuttleworth

How could I not fall in love with Peru? After all, it has Peruvians, some of the most open and loving people I’ve met in my – excuse the bragging – world travels. It also has Incan architecture, Spanish culture, monumental churches, shanty towns …. Yes, you can fall in love with Shanty-towns. I did.

Pacífico de Villa, rising on the steep hills outside of the Lima suburb of Chorillos, is a community of shacks made out of plywood, tarpaulins, recycled political billboards, local stones, with mud floors in the living room, but stamped mud in the areas the family only sees. It is perched close to the site of a historic battle between Peru and Chile in the Pacific War and stands between Lima and a sewage treatment plant. Why then, does the proposed main sewer going under this community not allow for sewage hookups? Why do the people there use pit latrines and the sand hills when this is being dug beneath their feet?

As an OSSTF member invited on a Solidarity in Action trip, I got to see Pacífico de Villa first hand on our first day in Peru. The women had decorated the community centre for the 18 volunteer participants. We were invited to dance. We received hugs from children and adults, hearty hand-shakes and smiles. On the soccer field, where we were invited to play, I saw that the teams were Peruvians versus Canadians. I switched sides: after all this was Solidarity in Action, a group planning to work with, not for and certainly not against the people.

Then I noticed that our enthusiastic and skilled group of players, lined up facing me and the Peruvians, were all women. The Peruvian men mocked. Should I have played on the same team as the women, in solidarity with them? Apparently they didn’t need my assistance. Jenn took the ball from one of the astonished men. Katelyn seized control of the corner of the field, sending me flying in the process. Nathalie shot successfully on the net. Winded, I switched out, inviting a Peruvian to “cambiamos”, leaving me to admire the play. In our reflection later in the day, it became obvious that our society and theirs do not work by the same rules in terms of gender. Something to ponder.

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